My coworkers, and one watchful office consultant, had heard the insult escape from my lips. I apologized for the verbal slip. It was only a small moment of weakness. What I had said was not a reflection of my personal views about the less fortunate creatures of the earth.
Yes, I had used the B. word.
I was backward, uneducated, and worse, verbal slip reveal my rural south origins. In public, I had used the word: Brontosaurus.
The BIG B. word.
Today, of course, the scientifically correct phrase which any respectable member of the public would use is: Apatosaurus. Though, it’s OK to say Diplodocus when drinking alone in a bar.
My coworkers scurried away from my apologetic mumbling. I was left alone with an angry office consultant who glared at me in disbelief.
I would have been better off if I had said Barney.
Political correctness is nothing new. It smooths over coarse language in order to keep public discourse civilized. No different than yesterday’s rules about when to say Miss, when to say Misses, and how to avoid misstatements when talking to an unmarried woman who “might be”pregnant.
In contrast, science correctness is brutal. It involves personal reputation and keeping up with thousands of egos; each delicately I-Queued in line to be the next Nobel prize winner.
For example, just who decided that the big B. word was no longer scientifically correct? And when did this happen? At the stroke of midnight some New Year’s Eve? Why didn’t they tell me? One of my coworkers put it this way: Why didn’t they ask me?
Just yesterday everyone was going around talking about the large lumbering Brontosaurus of the Jurassic era, and then, just like that, anyone that used the B. world was viewed as having a stone-age education and reptilian attitude about life.
And, it is not just the names of Jurassic dinosaurs which have gone the way of dinosaurs.
Last year science told us that two cups of coffee and three carrots each day will strengthen your heart. However, a cup of tea ran the risk of kicking up a few overly creative heart-beat rhythms.
This year science informs us that, in order to live past the age 70, a person must drink two cups of tea each day and stand six feet away from anyone crazy enough to be drinking coffee.
Scientific correctness changes without missing a beat. And no one ever explains what happened to the three once healthy carrots.
Back in college, my biology teacher, my geology teacher, and a shirtless man who lived in a cardboard box near the off-campus bookstore, constantly warned us about the return of another ice-age. Ice towers would silently creep up on sunbathers in Malibu beach. Basketball courts would be converted into Hockey rinks. Hockey rinks would be pulverized into fossils. Brontosaurs fossils would be crushed into reptilian dust.
Now scientists tell us that the entire earth is getting hotter.
Glaciers are melting into the Everglades. The Everglades is turning into the Gulf of Mexico. And the Gulf of Mexico is slowly boiling into a giant kettle of tea.
Scientists defend themselves by pointing out that science doesn’t just search for answers. After a scientist finds his or her answer, everybody goes back and re-searches for new answers. If rescue squads acted like scientists, lost hikers would rush out and buy food and a compass in the brief period between getting rescued and being thrown back out into the wilderness.
I say, why fund science research? We should just fund the original search and once an answer is found let the scientists go sunbathing on Malibu beach. If he or she gets crushed by an ice-burg we can send out a research party to find his or her bones.
But what if the new global warming science and my old college geology professor are both right? That is, what if planet earth becomes engulfed by a globally warmed ice age? New York City could be buried under a hundred billion slurpies. Glacier slush would spread and slide into the Gulf of Mexico. The human race could go the way of Barney.
The watchful office consultant suggested I take a dinosaur-and-mammal class. I took the course and learned, that recent research has showed that not just dinosaurs, but apes, people, in fact every animal with a backbone and a jaw, is descended from sharks.
This new knowledge is already helping me deal with my skeptical coworkers.